Ivaylo Ivanov, Director of Engineering at Dow Jones
Back in 2020, Dow Jones, one of the leading publishing and financial information companies worldwide, engaged Questers to assist the further expansion of their development unit in Sofia. Almost a year later, we’ve managed to attract strong engineers to the team and we continue looking for more. We talked to Ivaylo Ivanov, a Director of Engineering in the Sofia office, to tell us more about the Dow Jones technology division in Bulgaria and how it has become an important part of the company’s growth strategy,
How did you come to the position of Director of Engineering at Dow Jones? What is your educational and professional background?
I had an interest in programming since I was a kid. This was the era of the “Apple 2” machines, the Bulgarian variant of these was called “Pravetz-82”. Since then, I’ve been chasing this firstly as a hobby, then in my education in the high school and the university. I graduated “Economic Informatics” from the University of National and World Economy in Sofia.
At the end of my university study, I started working in a Bulgarian software company that delivers custom solutions mainly in the finance, energy, and telecommunications areas. I worked there for 17 years on over 40 projects with various responsibilities. After that, I joined the Dow Jones Technology team in Sofia as a Software Developer – this was 7.5 years ago. A year after that, as part of an organizational restructuring, I was invited to become the local Team Lead. Along with the technical and organizational aspects of the role, I also had to oversee all of the office administration workflows. So, with the time, as my expertise was forging, I was promoted to Manager, then Senior Manager, and recently into Director.
You’ve been working at Dow Jones since 2013. What do you consider your biggest achievement?
From a technical perspective, it’s very hard to name a single achievement as my biggest one. Being a member of this global team of experts, I’m very proud of my work on the renovation of the charting feature in Factiva (the flagman among our B2B products), on the various innovating prototypes for new product features, the migration of all our products into One-Identity Login system, the migration of our platform into exposing and consuming RESTful APIs following the JSONAPI standard and opening some of these APIs directly to our customers.
From an organizational point of view, I believe my biggest achievement is the increase of the transparency and the intensiveness of the communication between Sofia, the U.S. and Europe based technology offices of Dow Jones, as well as the motivation of the people. As a result, each member of our team became more visible and appreciated. This naturally led to the next step – our desire for this team to expand with more talents.
What are the products and projects the team is currently working on? Which are the most challenging ones?
People in our Sofia team are not a single development unit. Currently, they work distributed into 5 scrum teams along with colleagues from other offices, and each team delivers on a quite different project.
One of these teams for example works on the migration of product calls to a new RESTFul API for articles tagging. In another team our colleagues work on provisioning a new pipeline for handling the alerting traffic originating from our web and backend applications, as well as on deploying our infrastructure into 2 AWS regions in Asia in order to achieve higher availability and resiliency. Other colleagues also work on rewriting a legacy backend as a microservice on .NET Core 3.1 and hosting it into Service Mesh in the cloud. We also have several people working on the re-architecting of the content ingestion part of our real-time news platform called NewsWires.
What about the technologies used in Dow Jones?
This is one of the exciting things here at Dow Jones. As the world is evolving, we keep an eye on the trends. We’re not stuck with using one specific language or technology for all of our systems. We have applications written in C#.NET & .NET Core, but we also have some written in Java, NodeJS, C++, Python, etc. We’re open to explore what is emerging in the field – things like Rust, .NET 5, GRPC. We continuously modernize our systems when they become obsolete. We use AWS as a major cloud provider, but for things like BigData and AI/ML we use GCP.
In terms of deployment and hosting, we have established standards and practices. We have also built a CI/CD pipeline based on Jenkins, Terraform and our own set of supporting tools.
From an architectural point, the overall trend is to convert our systems to a microservice-based model and host them into a Service Mesh which is achieved with technologies like Docker, Kubernetes, Istio, Envoy, Jaeger, Prometheus, Spinnaker, Grafana.
The team efforts are not, and cannot be, purely focused on delivering new products and features to our 4+ million customers. Along with this, we strive to do continuous improvement of the reliability of our systems in terms of decreasing the number of incidents and decreasing the time it takes to identify and to resolve any issue. For this, we follow Google’s SRE (Site Reliability Engineering) methodology and we have built our own pipelines for logging, monitoring and alerting.
Dow Jones has established a tech unit in Bulgaria in 2006, but in 2020 you engaged Questers to support your further expansion. As a result, there’s already a strong team of engineers in place that continues to grow. Tell us more about the collaboration with your colleagues at Questers.
As I mentioned, over the years our existing team of experts in Sofia became well recognized, and the company wants to see it expanding. In partnership with Questers, we managed to find 7 people that joined several of our scrum teams. These experts, along with their different professional background, brought another perspective to the teamwork. Each of them managed to quickly become familiar with the part of our platform related to their work and with the established company practices. These people now work on a unified automated testing pipeline hosted on AWS, on the creation of a next-gen content ingestion infrastructure and services, on the creation of microservices-based API in a service mesh. I believe it’s an exciting moment of time and opportunity for us to build together the future of Dow Jones and to become even more recognized as a leading provider of trustful news and information.